Today’s featured photo kind of spells out how I feel about getting older…
This year is only 15 days old, but some people have already experienced, or at least revealed, some major life changes. And since they are people I know online, I’ve shared in their big news, if only in a small way.
This week, especially, has been one of jaw dropping revelations for some of my friends. Or, maybe it’s more revelatory to my friends’ friends, rather than themselves. I suspect that my friends who have been dropping some truths this week have known for quite some time about their personal bombshells.
Out of respect for my friends’ privacy, I don’t want to be too specific about their big news stories, since none of their tales are mine to tell. I guess this post is more about my reaction to their news… and how it makes me reflect on how things have changed so much. It wasn’t so long ago that I felt like the world hadn’t evolved that much from, say, 1990 until now. But now I realize that it really has become a totally foreign place on so many levels.
There was a time not so long ago when big news would spread via letter to one person, or by telephone, in a newspaper, or maybe word of mouth. As technology evolved, we’d hear news on the radio, or TV, and then eventually cable TV, which had news 24/7 on channels like CNN. Today, we get news from the Internet– especially on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.
All three of my friends shared their personal news in Facebook posts. All three “stories” are a very big deal. I’m talking major life changes and, in all three cases, their very identities are evolving into something very different and potentially scary and exciting. I suspect at least two of the three people will lose some friends over their news, or even some family members who can’t cope with the massive paradigm shifts they will experience in the near future.
These three people are people I know on varying levels, both personal and professional. One of my “friends” undergoing a major life change is someone I don’t know especially well offline. We have been in each other’s physical presence a couple of times, but not recently. The other two people are genuine offline friends with whom I also had a professional relationship. One was someone I hired, and the other is someone who hired me. I haven’t seen either of them in person in a long time, either. Geography plays a big part in these circumstances, of course.
Not twenty years ago, I would not be privy to any of the really big news my friends are sharing. For instance, it would have been unthinkable in the year 2002 that I would find out about major life changes from people with whom I didn’t at least have a casual offline relationship. And yet, all three of these people have shared their news with me. I don’t mind that, per se, since I like them. But there was a time, not long ago, when I know that I never would have heard their big news, simply because I’m not that close to them.
Back in 2002, I certainly wouldn’t have found out, say, about a former acquaintance’s new addition to her family, which I only discovered this morning because she still shows up in comments she made in my Facebook memories, when we still regularly “e-versed”. This was someone I did meet offline a few times, and we had a cordial relationship, although I could tell we weren’t really clicking… or, should I say, “clique-ing”– as she was still in a clique that I had left.
Sometime last year, this person finally unfriended me on Facebook. I suspect it’s because we somehow never meshed, and we don’t have much in common, other than having both lived abroad in military communities. I got the sense that she found me annoying, and if I’m honest, I could probably say the same about her.
Nevertheless, I was still initially a little sad about losing a “friend”, but then I mostly forgot about her, since we weren’t that close to begin with. I was suddenly reminded of her again this morning, when I inadvertently saw her current profile photo. It reveals a very prominent baby bump. I’m sure she’s a mother of two by now, and I wish her well. But it still struck me as odd that I now know about this big news, even though we don’t “talk” anymore, and I hadn’t sought out news about her. And it made me realize how social media really has altered so much about what was once “normal”.
Now, we can communicate with literally anyone in the world who is on the Internet, sometimes even when we’d really rather not. Even if they aren’t on the Internet, like my mom, I can still use the Internet to call her phone. I talked to my mom the other day and she said my sister had shown her my Facebook profile picture. Mom commented that she thought I looked “beautiful”. It is a pretty nice photo, if I do say so myself. I had put on a dress, fixed my hair, and put on makeup. Mom lamented that she didn’t have any recent photos of me. We haven’t seen each other since 2015. I said, if she would just learn basic Internet skills, she could see and talk to me whenever she wants. But she won’t do it, as she’s 83 years old, and doesn’t want the Internet to invade her life. Maybe she’s smarter than I am for that, although I don’t think I could function without it as a middle aged person.
I can even find out about stuff I don’t even want to know about… information that I never sought and even find kind of hurtful. For example, back in 2013, a woman I know from my hometown sent me an email about my former “best” friend, who had had a baby and gotten her baby baptized in the church I had attended as a child. This “friend” was someone I once felt very close to, and knew very well. We spent so much time together when we were growing up. But, friends sometimes grow apart, and in the case of this friend, I realized that our “friendship” had become quite toxic.
When my church lady friend had sent me that email, I realized that my ex friend was still Facebook friends with me, but had restricted my access to her page. She, on the other hand, could freely stalk my page all she wanted. I hadn’t noticed that I was restricted, because I had quit talking to her a long time ago, mainly because I usually felt really bad about myself after our online conversations and had decided to withdraw. Then, a mutual friend dropped the bomb on me via email.
There I was, reeling from learning that my so-called, long time “best” friend from childhood had hidden the news from me that she’d had a baby. I told Bill, who then said that this “friend” had behaved very inappropriately toward him at our wedding rehearsal. It was at that point that I blocked her on social media, but even after blocking her, I still found out stuff… from mutual friends, the church lady (who was bewildered that my friend and I had a falling out), and yes, from Facebook memories.
Nowadays, Facebook memories allows users to omit memories from people they don’t want to remember, but that was not an option until somewhat recently. And, at this point, I no longer care if I hear about her or see her on social media. I even unblocked her, because in her case, I simply don’t care anymore. But I cared a few years ago… when the pain was still fresh in my mind. I wasn’t surprised by what she’d done, since I knew she’d done something similar to her ex boyfriend. I might have even excused her by not sharing her baby news. However, when Bill finally told me what she did at our wedding, that was when I really felt hurt, betrayed, and angry, and decided not to have anything to do with her anymore.
In each of the cases of the three people who shared big news with me, and all of the rest of their friends this week, all I feel is love and compassion. As I mentioned before, these are very big life changes they’re dealing with. I also feel great compassion to the people who are close to them in their personal lives, because the life changing news they shared doesn’t just affect them. In some ways, I think the people who didn’t make the big announcements, but are, nevertheless, very much affected by the news, will need all of the hope, prayers, faith, and thoughts they can get.
At the same time, I’m still somewhat amazed that I got their news. I hardly feel worthy to know of it… well, except in the cases of two of the three people, who are both people I still talk to somewhat regularly, and both of whom helped change my life for the better. In one case, I really didn’t have to know… but in the other case, I obviously would know, because their big news literally changes their identity in some very major ways. Like– I could not be friends with this person anymore and not eventually know their news.
I’m sorry if this post is confusing and weird. It’s really weird for me, too. I would like to be more specific… but I just don’t feel comfortable in sharing more at this point. And if I ever do share more, it will probably be later, perhaps in a protected post… when I’ve gotten more used to the idea. And also, it reminds me of the very interesting turns my life has taken and people I’ve either met, or know of somehow… and how sometimes, they share their big revelations with me, whether or not they meant to share their news that broadly.
Social media has made things strange in so many ways… but it’s also allowed us all to meet and get to know people we otherwise never would, and that’s not such a bad thing. Hell, I’ve “met” some interesting people just by writing this blog and occasionally attracting regular commenters. I’m kind of glad I haven’t hit “the big time” like some people have, since not being popular makes it possible for me to get to know people.
This morning, I was watching Fundie Fridays’ most recent video about Kirk and Candace Cameron, and Jen, who runs the channel with her boyfriend, James, mentioned that she was sorry she couldn’t respond to the many emails and private messages she gets. That channel has exploded in popularity, so now she literally can’t keep up with all of the correspondence. On one hand, I think it’s awesome that she’s so successful. But on another hand, there is a definite trade off, isn’t there? Anyway… I do recommend her latest video, especially if you’re as old as I am and remember when Kirk was a “teen idol”. Now he’s just a middle aged twerp who apparently thinks he’s better than you and I are because he’s the right kind of “Christian”.
Anyway… it’s just crazy to me how things are in 2022, and that I can find out “big news” about people, even if I don’t go looking for it. I never envisioned life would be like this back when I was younger. I’m actually delighted that I grew up in a time when people weren’t always online. And I am very glad that I didn’t have to go to school during the age of the Internet. However, I am happy that I can stay in touch with some people and meet people via the ‘net, even if there are some folks I’d like to be able to ghost the old fashioned way. And I’m sure some of them would like to lose touch with me, too…
Well, I think I’ll get back to my latest book, so I can post a new book review. My book reviews aren’t usually all that controversial, except for some of the subject matter I cover. Hope everyone has better weather than we do over here in foggy, damp, chilly Germany. And I hope all of the news you get this week is good news.